Islamabad: Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry said, “God forbid fools are not sitting here.” The statement came when the Supreme Court was informed that a company was offering to sell its licence to prospect for copper and gold in Balochistan to another firm for just $100.

The Chief Justice said, “You cannot even buy a shirt from Marks and Spencer for $100, not even a common shirt, what to talk of an exploration licence.”

Advocate Khalid Anwar representing the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) told the Supreme Court on Thursday that BHP, a company exploring copper and gold deposits at Reko Diq in Balochistan, was offering to sell its prospecting licence to a new buyer for mere $100.

He told a three-judge bench, “BHP lost interest after getting zero results from EL-5 (Reko Diq) despite spending millions of dollars and a big time of ten years, went out in the market to hunt for a prospective buyer by offering for $100 the prospecting licence it got from the Balochistan government.”

The bench was hearing petitions filed to block the award of a possible copper and gold exploration contract to TCC - a Canadian and Chilean consortium of Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals - to look for gold and copper in Reko Diq.

The media report said that Reko Diq is believed to be the fifth largest deposits of gold and copper in the world.

Anwar said that BHP was selling with a condition that the new firm would work at the site for six months and if it finds precious deposits, the BHP would then enter into an alliance with it for sharing profits from the venture.